This week, science stars gathered at a dinner for 50+ past, present and (hopefully) future Tall Poppy Award winners from NSW.

They’re not looking to keep up with the Kardashians but it’s scientists’ work that, for example, brings us closer to one day curing childhood cancer, helps us manage our marine environment more sustainably, enables innovative agribusinesses to grow and encourages young people to make new discoveries about their world.

“Compared to sporting stars and movie stars, it can be hard for scientists to compete for attention” said Professor Maria Kavallaris, our Head of Tumour Targeting and Biology who, with NSW Chief Scientist, Prof Mary O’Kane, spoke at the dinner hosted by UNSW. In 2004, Maria won a Young Tall Poppy Award for her work in tumour biology and her service to the medical research community. She is grateful her Award allows her to stay “forever young and forever tall”!

Maria with guests at Tall Poppy dinner
Maria with guests at Tall Poppy dinner

As well as leading research at Children’s Cancer Institute, Prof Maria Kavallaris is also Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine, and Scientific Chair of the Australian Institute for Policy and Science, which runs the Tall Poppy Awards. She said the list of Tall Poppy alumni is impressive.

“In NSW, some prominent winners include Professor Emma Johnstone of UNSW, Professor Kathryn North who is Director of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Professor Ian Anderson of the Hawkesbury Institute of the Environment

“Many of our winners have gone on to win other prestigious awards including Eureka Prizes, L’Oreal Women in Science Prize, Australian Academy of Science Prizes and PM’s Prize for Science,” she said.

NSW Chief Scientist Prof Mary O’Kane said the Tall Poppy Awards were initiated in the anniversary year of the birth of Howard Florey, the Australian scientist famous for his role in developing penicillin, as a way to recognise and reward excellence in research and science communication. Since the Awards started, 500 Australian scientists across all states have won Tall Poppies.

Read more about the Tall Poppy Awards and for 2017, nominate a scientist you admire so they too can stay forever young and tall!

Historical photo of Howard Florey, developer of penicillin
Howard Florey, developer of penicillin. By Brigadier Sidney Smith ([1]) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


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